Mo Garden Mo Problems

This year is the best by far in my garden- a great thing! I’ve already picked more than a dozen cucumbers and a couple of squash. The tomatoes should be ripe by the end of the month. But like Biggie said, mo garden mo problems. Well, not exactly that, but something very similar.

I’ve been checking on my garden daily. Earlier this week, I noticed I had multiple problems. Here’s how I addressed each one:

Tomato plant bending over

Out of control tomato plant

Bending and Snapping Tomato Plants- My tomato plants have gotten far bigger than I thought they would. I bought cages at the beginning of the summer to support them, but each plant is now at least a foot taller than the cage. Luckily this was an easy fix. I staked the plant by tying the main stalk of each plant to a pole with a string. As the plants grow, I can use taller poles and retie the string to better support the plants.

Plant fungus

What is this?!?!

White Spots on Cucumber Leaves- I noticed several squash plant leaves had white spots or were covered in a white powder. After doing a quick search, I found out this was a fungus. There are multiple treatment methods, but I settled on a milk and water mixture because it seemed pretty effective based on feedback. Just spray on the leaves once a week and the problem should go away.

Yellowing and Browning Cucumber Leaves- Some of the leaves on my cucumber plants started turning yellow and brown, then dying. I had no idea what this was so I went straight to Google. This was about as big a mistake as going to WebMD to look up your medical symptoms. I found out the problem could’ve been anything to nothing to a rampant plant killing fungus. Much like what happens when I use WebMD, I jumped to the worst case scenario. My entire plant was dying. For a little extra help, I contacted Wake County NC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners. Luckily, these experienced gardeners calmed me down. The gardener told me that the soil likely needed more nitrogen and recommended fish fertilizer. I purchased some and applied as directed.

We will see if these remedies cure my garden problems. On the bright side, my crop over a two-day period this week.

Crop from the garden


Four Gardening Lessons from My Father-In-Law

My in-laws came to visit from the U.K. a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time in their week-long visit. They enjoyed seeing the small towns in central North Carolina and even attended their first baseball game. I think my proudest achievement is converting half the family into baseball fans.

Steve and Steve 25 years from now

Steve and Steve 25 years from now- Photo by Michael Torbert

My husband likes to say his dad knows everything. I didn’t believe him for years, but after this visit, I’m finally starting to think my husband is right. Even though I’ve improved nearly everything I’m doing over last year, there are things my father-in-law said I should have done or should do differently.

Compost pile- I thought my compost pile was the correct dampness. According to my father-in-law, steam should rise from the pile when you turn it in summer. It turns out mine was bone dry. I’ll need to purchase a compost solution or a worm farm to get the decomposition going.

Strawberry plant with offshoots and new roots

Strawberries- My strawberries are still growing even though there isn’t actually any fruit. I should pinch off the new growth and replant the growth and its root so as not to take energy from the original plants. This means twice as many plants or more for next year!

Tomato plant two stalks

Tomato plants– I wondered why my tomato plants weren’t growing any fruit on the bottom half. While they were first growing, I didn’t pinch off the new shoots. I ended up with at least two main stalks on each plant instead of one strong one. If I had  known what to do while the plants were growing, I could’ve gotten twice as many tomatoes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it now.

Deeper roots– All of my plants need deeper roots. The garden boxes are about 12 inches deep, but that is not enough. A winter project will be to build up the garden boxes so I can add more dirt and plants can have deeper roots for next year.

I was disappointed to find out I’m still doing a lot of things wrong. But on the bright side, year two is better than year one. Year three will be even better than this summer.

I hope my father-in-law’s never ending reservoir of knowledge will benefit you as it has for me.

Blame it on Flat Stanley!

Flat Stanley in downtown Raleigh

Flat Stanley in downtown Raleigh

A good friend of mine asked for help with her daughter’s class project on Flat Stanley. My role involved taking pictures of him in various locations and sending the pictures back. I admit that I had a great time with the assignment.

Flat Stanley in the garden

Flat Stanley in the garden

Flat Stanley even helped me in the garden. Unfortunately, since he was so new to gardening, he made a fatal error with one of my tomato plants.

Tomato plants need extra support when they get to a certain height or they won’t grow upright. My plants had flopped over so I knew it was time to get out the stakes and anchor the tomato plants with string.

In his excitement while tying the first support, Flat Stanley stretched the tomato plant a little too much and snapped the plant in the middle. So my pretty tomato plant ended up looking like this:

Broken tomato plant

Broken tomato plant

Blame it on Flat Stanley! If you don’t want the same thing to happen to you:

1. Be very gentle when pulling the plant towards the stake.

2. If you feel any kind of resistance, stop.

3. Hold the plant very carefully with one hand and tie with the other. It’s even better if you can get someone to help you either hold the plant or tie the string to the stake.

4. Don’t let Flat Stanley help you garden.

Predictably, the top of the plant died. I had to cut it off, so now it’s half the size of the others. I’m hoping the plant will grow back or at least produce some fruit from what’s left.

Veggie Gardening Virgin lesson learned.




Putting a Pause on the Gardening Blog

Pause on the garden

The garden is growing!

Some of you may have noticed that it’s been about two weeks since I posted any updates on the garden. I try to post at least weekly, but I had to hit pause on the blog. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with work, volunteer activities and travel for work/fun.

Don’t worry though, the garden is still doing very well as you can see in the photo on the right.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked to some very smart people about how to make the blog better. I’ll start using some of those tips over the next few weeks.

Until I get back into the swing of things, enjoy the following photos from my recent work trip/weekend of camping in New Bern, NC. It’s a beautiful place and a great town to visit. It really helped to relax and get away from it all.

Street full of historic houses in New Bern, NC

Street full of historic houses in New Bern, NC

Docks full of boats and yachts in New Bern, NC

Docks full of boats and yachts in New Bern, NC







View of the Neuse River from our campsite

View of the Neuse River from our campsite

Our campsite

Our campsite







View of the Neuse River at dusk

View of the Neuse River at dusk